Free market legislation (Re: Am I stupid?)

Phil Goetz (goetz@cs.Buffalo.EDU)
Sun, 9 Mar 1997 01:21:38 -0500 (EST)

> Suppose I want to make $10,000,
> there are two ways to go about it. I can work to repeal hundreds of special
> interest laws, each one costing me a few dollars, or I can lobby for the
> passage of one more special interest law that will give me and my friends
> $10,000 and cost everybody else a dollar or two.

This is a problem with our government: Laws are bought, but the costs
of entry into corruption are high. It takes a lot of money and expertise
to bribe a congressman, and I can't even begin. It's cost-effective for
corporations to spend $100K to get a bill passed that will net them $1M.

I've thought that it might be more fair if laws were bought and sold openly,
rather than secretly as they are now. Imagine if, instead of Congress
voting on a bill, voters pledged money for or against it. People would
have to put their money where their mouth is. People would straighten out
their priorities pretty quick if they had to back them up with cash.
For example, I think you'd see that, though people are eager to restrict
other people's freedom when it doesn't match their code of ethics,
they'd be a lot more tolerant if they had to shell out dough to ban
homosexuality, etc.

For another thing, if Wal-Grain Inc. wanted to pass a big farm subsidy bill
that would cost everyone in Iowa a dollar in taxes, a million people
sending in a dime each could stop it. Postage could be a barrier at this
level, but there are ways around that. Under the present system, the
farm subsidy bill could not be opposed financially unless there were
already a watchdog special-interest group just waiting to oppose farm
subsidy bills if they arose. Which would hardly be worth the cost of
setting up the organization.


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